Seasonal and Diurnal Variability of the Meteor Flux at High Latitudes Observed Using PFISR


Sparks, J. J., Janches, D., Nicolls, M. J., & Heinselman, C. J. (2009). Seasonal and diurnal variability of the meteor flux at high latitudes observed using PFISR. Journal of atmospheric and solar-terrestrial physics, 71(6-7), 644-652.


We report in this and a companion paper [Fentzke, J.T., Janches, D., Sparks, J.J., 2008. Latitudinal and seasonal variability of the micrometeor input function: A study using model predictions and observations from Arecibo and PFISR. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, this issue, doi:10.1016/j.jastp.2008.07.015] a complete seasonal study of the micrometeor input function (MIF) at high latitudes using meteor head-echo radar observations performed with the Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar (PFISR). This flux is responsible for a number of atmospheric phenomena; for example, it could be the source of meteoric smoke that is thought to act as condensation nuclei in the formation of ice particles in the polar mesosphere. The observations presented here were performed for full 24-h periods near the summer and winter solstices and spring and autumn equinoxes, times at which the seasonal variability of the MIF is predicted to be large at high latitudes [Janches, D., Heinselman, C.J., Chau, J.L., Chandran, A., Woodman, R., 2006. Modeling of the micrometeor input function in the upper atmosphere observed by High Power and Large Aperture Radars, JGR, 11, A07317,  doi:10.1029/2006JA011628]. Precise altitude and radar instantaneous line-of-sight (radial) Doppler velocity information are obtained for each of the hundreds of events detected every day. We show that meteor rates, altitude, and radial velocity distributions have a large seasonal dependence. This seasonal variability can be explained by a change in the relative location of the meteoroid sources with respect to the observer. Our results show that the meteor flux into the upper atmosphere is strongly anisotropic and its characteristics must be accounted for when including this flux into models attempting to explain related aeronomical phenomena. In addition, the measured acceleration and received signal strength distribution do not seem to depend on season; which may suggest that these observed quantities do not have a strong dependence on entry angle.

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